Gaza's Christian bookseller killed

The manager of Gaza's only Christian bookshop, who was abducted on Saturday by suspected Muslim extremists, was found dead yesterday. Medical officials said Rami Ayyad, 31, had been shot and stabbed. He was the father of two small children and his wife is pregnant with their third.

He is reported to have received several death threats since his Protestant bible shop was fire bombed six months ago, destroying shelves of books and pamphlets. He told friends that bearded men in a car stalked him and looked at him strangely after he locked up on Thursday.

The killers seized him as he left the shop on Saturday night. Suhad Massad, the director of the local Baptist bible society which runs the shop, said friends called his mobile phone when he did not arrive home. He told them he was running late.

Mr Ayyad's mother, Anisa, said he phoned his family. "He said he was going to be with the 'people' for another two hours and that if he was not back by then, he would not be returning for a long, long time." She added that Mr Ayyad, who was born into a Greek Orthodox family but worshipped in a Baptist congregation, had "redeemed Christ with his blood".

About 3,000 Arab Christians live among 1.4 million Muslims in the Gaza Strip. Attacks on Christians and their property are rare, but more than 40 video cassette shops and internet cafes, identified with Western values, have been bombed in the past year. So was an American school. A shadowy group calling itself the Righteous Swords of Islam claimed responsibility.

Up to 300 Muslims and Christians attended a memorial service for Mr Ayyad in a Greek Orthodox church in Gaza City yesterday. The mourners were reluctant to point fingers or to open a rift between the faiths.

Ms Massad said: "We don't know who was behind the killing or why. Was it for money, or was it because he was selling Bibles?" Describing him as a man with a warm heart, a smiling face and no enemies. "We try to show Jesus' love for all people, but without evangelism."

Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, maintained: "This ugly act has no support by any religious group here." Nicholas Issa, a 50-year-old Christian, said: "Today is a black day for Gaza. We hope he was not killed because he was a Christian."

Another Christian, Jan Sa'ad, 42, said: "This has never happened before in Gaza. If somebody thinks this murder will make Christians leave, they are mistaken. This is our homeland. We are as patriotic as anyone."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test